Princeton University Graduate Student Creates Mini Flying Carpet

By Ed Silverstein October 03, 2011

A graduate student at Princeton University has made an actual mini “flying carpet” out of a sheet of conductive plastic.

It moves via “ripple power waves” that come from an electrical current which are driven forward from air packets, according to Slashgear.

The four-inch square sheet is “lifted by the air packets and propelled forwards,” explains the BBC.

The flying carpet moves one centimeter per second, and it may soon travel faster. Also, the plastic sheet travels near the ground.

In an article appearing in Applied Physics Letters, Noah Jafferis, who is the Princeton grad student, said that the researchers “use integrated piezoelectric actuators and sensors to demonstrate the propulsive force produced by controllable transverse traveling waves in a thin plastic sheet suspended in air above a flat surface, thus confirming the physical basis for a ‘flying’ carpet near a horizontal surface. Experiments are conducted to determine the dependence of the force on the height above the ground and the amplitude of the traveling wave, which qualitatively confirm previous theoretical predictions.”

“It has to keep close to the ground, because the air is then trapped between the sheet and the ground," Jafferis told the BBC.

Eventually, the flying carpet may be powered by an independent power supply, such as solar panels, the BBC adds.

Jafferis developed the invention in the laboratory of James Sturm, professor of electrical engineering and director of the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials, according to a university blog post.

"What was difficult was controlling the precise behavior of the sheet as it deformed at high frequencies," Sturm said, reports the blog post from Princeton University. "Without the ability to predict the exact way it would flex, we couldn't feed in the right electrical currents to get the propulsion to work properly."

Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Contributor

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